Monday 13 September 2021

Essential Snobbery 101: The privilege of setting expectations

Preparedness as a notion

When I embarked on a business trip to the UK from Nigeria in the second half of November 1990, I knew it would be chilly, but had no inkling as to how cold it would be. I bought myself a jacket that would have been too warm for Lagos, yet it was inadequate for the weather in London. I was soon shopping for warmer clothes.

Being prepared for the weather, environment, and situation of where you are visiting is paramount to hopefully enjoying your sojourn, failing that, certain standards should be met to make your stay comfortable. For instance, my mother was on a pilgrimage to the Jordan part of the holy lands in August. To an extent, the type of clothes and shoes they should have were part of the travel information that ensured a lady in her late 70s did not suffer the ravages of the change of the weather.

Standards must be exceeded

When I visited India in December 2011, there were things to expect of India and there were things I expected of my hosts. It was hot and humid on the one side, but they somehow had forgotten that they had brought over people from Europe expecting us all to just muck in like backpackers to India. That was not going to wash with me. A few conversations with the people who matter appeared to force up the standards of accommodation, consideration, food, and facilities. Everyone benefitted from my interventions.

On a contract in France in September 2012, we are lodged in a hotel unsuitable for the calibre of people we were, it was in a noisy and somewhat dangerous neighbourhood. My case was simple, putting aside the standard of the hotel that was below par, we already had a stressful job to do, the last thing anyone needed was people unable to do their work proficiently because of bad nights at their hotel. We were rehoused to a more agreeable location the next night.

One will not be ignored

In May 2015, I was in South Africa for business where my hosts did not consider it necessary to receive me and introduce me to the people and activities I came to fulfil. On the first and second day of my arrival, the main contact went about her own business as if I was of no consequence and that was her prerogative. Anyway, I wrote up the chain that I had not travelled 6,000 miles to be treated like that and I would be on the next flight back to the UK.

That was an epiphany to them for immediately, everyone assumed the roles they were supposed to and the rest of my trip turned out right. All this is predicated not necessarily on complaining, but if you have an opinion or a question, it would not be conveyed by silence, it needs to be expressed with the aim of achieving something. At least, that is the way I view things.

The privilege of knowing you

I guess there are expectations and mine could be a bit high by reason of what I am accustomed to, and I make no apology for that. If a service or facility has been acquired and its delivery raises questions, then the questions should be asked, politely, directly and properly, making some allowances whilst seeking satisfactory answers in word and deed. It is not too much to ask for, in my humble opinion.

Maybe it is a case of an unacknowledged sense of privilege that by default sets the standards I expect, sets the tone of the conversation I am having, sets the level of the requirements I expect to be met and sets the quality of response that my interlocutors should rise to. I cannot tell, but when I make a statement about service, conduct, provision, situation or circumstance, I expect the standard to be raised and sometimes it would rise beyond the competence of the people it is required from, if they are not so accustomed to meeting demands.

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